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The Bible, Benefit Or Harm


Kath
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I posted this on a deist board earlier today but thought, seeing as we have quite a few participants here that are not strict theists, it might be good "conversation starter" here also.

 

Disclaimer: My thoughts on this subject do not represent those of any deists, deism, Christian deists, or Christian deism that I am aware of. These are only my thoughts. YMMV.

 

Frankly, I am somewhat irritated at the allegation towards deists that we think that God “created the universe and then walked away” or that God “doesn’t intervene in his creation.” I think these allegations reflect a severe and important misunderstanding of how I, as a deist, view both God and God’s intervention. So I’d like to set the record straight as to how I understand God and God’s intervention in his creation.

 

When I was a traditional Christian, God was, for me, a Being “out there.” God, according to the Genesis account, created the universe separate from Himself. God, being God, could enter His creation and interact with it if He wanted to, but He didn’t live here. He was “in heaven,” wherever that was, usually thought of by me as a place beyond time and space. For reasons that were only fully known to God, He would sometimes “intervene” in order to accomplish His will, which usually consisted of giving someone a message, doing a miracle to get someone’s attention, or punishing someone for really screwing up. But after God was done intervening, He left the earth to go live in heaven again, probably because He just couldn’t stand being in a sinful world filled with sinful human beings. Again, because God was separate from His creation, the only way He could change anything about it was to visit it, do what He wanted to do, and then leave again until, at some point in the future, God would fix things so He could actually live here.

 

As I’m becoming more and more a deist, my views both of God and of creation are changing. Therefore, what I think now may change next week. But I have to go with what I currently understand and that is this: creation is not separate from God. God created everything within God’s-self. The apostle Paul may have been hinting at this when he told the philosophers on Mars Hill that, “In him (God), we live and move and have our being.” I, and others, call this panendeism. It is the notion that God is the Spirit or the More or the Divine in which the whole universe dwells. Put crudely in anthropomorphic terms, God is pregnant with his creation. If this is true, if we are all “in God,” then the notion of intervention (interfering from without) is a false one. God doesn’t interfere from without because there is no “without.” So how does God, again put crudely, interact? From within. Not interference, but influence. But the influence is “part of the program,” built into the universe itself. We may (or may not) even be cognitively aware of God’s influence, mainly because we no longer see the separation between ourselves, creation, and God that religions tout so highly. Or maybe, to put it another way, we are the hardware running God’s software. This doesn’t mean we are robots, it just means that something of God is part of us – always has been, always will be.

 

I’ll close this with a quick illustration, ridiculous though it may be: You see a child who looks hungry and has filthy, torn clothes on her. As a traditional Christian, you pray to God that God will intervene and help this poor child. You make God aware of her situation through "prayer" and you ask that he intervene on her behalf. As an atheist, you may help the poor child because you don’t believe in a God who intervenes. If anyone is going to help her, you, not God, must do it. As a deist, I would do the same thing as the atheist, I would help the poor child. But I would also believe that God had put enough of God’s self – which is love – into me that I responded to that influence. It is not that God created all of this and then walked away, refusing to ever intervene or interfere with his creation. It is that God created all of this in God’s self and interacts with his creation through his creation. Why pray for God to do something when he has already put it within our hearts what should be done? If Jesus' "incarnation" teaches us anything, it should be that God acts through humans, not through skyhooks. This, to me, is how God interacts with creation. It’s not intervention. But neither is it abandonment. It is active cooperation – the Creator inside his creations.

 

Any thoughts? I am just crazy?

 

No, of course you're not crazy. My thoughts are this: Prayer doesn't change the fact that there will be children who are suffering no matter what your religious persuasion is. No one knows what God is or isn't and cannot determine any outcome from any prayer.

 

I don't preface my beliefs on the bible. Why do people wrestle with this when they can't possibly know the answers? Why even quote the bible when we as 'progressives' know that what you quote is probably and most likely not accurate?

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No, of course you're not crazy. My thoughts are this: Prayer doesn't change the fact that there will be children who are suffering no matter what your religious persuasion is. No one knows what God is or isn't and cannot determine any outcome from any prayer.

 

I don't preface my beliefs on the bible. Why do people wrestle with this when they can't possibly know the answers? Why even quote the bible when we as 'progressives' know that what you quote is probably and most likely not accurate?

 

 

Hi Kath,

 

I find your comment here interesting and would like to share a somewhat different view for consideration. It seems to me that progressives still find many accurate and true statements in the Bible that are worthy of being quoted. While other threads on that topic here have indicated to me that there is a diversity of beliefs concerning the Bible, its interpretations, possible inaccuracies, mistranslations and the like, it seems to me to remain a book worthy of reading, sharing , study and even quoting on occasions because it may say it in words we cannot improve on personally.

 

You said "No one knows what God is or isn't and cannot determine any outcome from any prayer."

I would respectfully disagree with that statement as i understand it. I say this because i certainly believe there are some things that i personally know that God is or isn't and it is not from any book though i may find agreement from a portion of a book which includes the Bible. Also i would personally disagree with my understanding of your statement in that my personal experience has shown me outcome can be known from prayer prior to the physical happening. How? i cannot explain. Of course i can quote personal stories and examples in my life but none of them would be personal proof to you as my words are not proof of anything to another as the words in a song says that drew me originally to my spiritual quest, "you'll never know that its true til it happens to you".

 

Just my personal view for consideration concerning your post and not meant to say that the way you see it is not true for you.

 

Joseph

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Kath asks, "Why even quote the bible when we as 'progressives' know that what you quote is probably and most likely not accurate?"

 

I realize that, for many, quoting the Bible has to do with citing facts to back up one's position. However, I find it more useful to think of the Bible as a vehicle for dialogue. In other words, in the Bible we have a document that we take seriously, and that provides us with stories and metaphors that we can use to illustrate aspects of a position. It is common ground and can therefore give us images to share. I think of the Bible as "a set of documents that describe the human search for the divine." Now if that is the case, then what we find in it should illustrate how our search relates to our understanding of reality as regards a particular topic. Just because we run the risk of putting too much reliance in what the Bible states doesn't mean we shouldn't at least take advantage of its universality.

 

Or something like that.

Edited by grampawombat
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Hi Joseph, and thanks for your reply to my thoughts. I think this is a good conversation to have between us because I'd be interested in your perspectives and stories in comparison to mine, and maybe we'll find a mutual understanding in the process.

 

Deleted redundant copy of long quote to save space.... JM

Edited by JosephM
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Hi Kath.

 

I hope you don't mind if I interject a small side-subject in here. You wrote: But for those people who think the bible is the 'it' book of all time, and know not that it isn't to be taken literally, I think the value of verses being quoted is grossly overshadowed by the harm it has done in being literally taken and misunderstood, ultimately hurting people in the process.

 

This is one of my own disagreements with some progressives, their claim that the biblical writers never meant for their writings to be taken literally. I simply don't find this to be the case. I think the biblical writers very much intended their writings to be taken literally. For instance, though many progressives and liberals would say that the Genesis creation accounts are "myth," neither Jesus nor Paul seemed to think so. They both mention Adam and Even and no where suggest that Adam and Eve were mythological creations.

 

Perhaps like you, I don't at all consider the bible to be inerrant and infallible. I do think this book has a lot of problems, although I also recognize its sacred status amongst Christians. I wouldn't be for throwing it out because, at least for me, it gives me fairly good information about Jesus (which is part of my spiritual past) and it does have some good things in it. Nevertheless, neither do I defend it by saying, as some progressives do, that it was never meant to be taken literally. I call a spade a spade. Where I think the bible or Jesus or Paul is wrong, I say so. ;) I don't try to protect the book by claiming that it wasn't meant to be taken literally. To me, this is the best way to respect (not worship) the book for its sacred status - recognize its strengths and shortcomings - and don't try to white-wash it.

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Kath said...

Joseph, I think people from the beginning of time have made statements worthy of being quoted. While the bible has some wonderfully inspirational and conscious-worthy quotes, I'm sure any lesson of value can be found in other books which don't include hateful and prejudiced stories, which would be interpreted and followed by the people who read it. But for those people who think the bible is the 'it' book of all time, and know not that it isn't to be taken literally, I think the value of verses being quoted is grossly overshadowed by the harm it has done in being literally taken and misunderstood, ultimately hurting people in the process.

 

 

Hi Kath,

 

I personally have no objections whatsoever to quotations from any book, religious or otherwise. There are more books than i have read that are worthy to be quoted. I would be in agreement with you on that point.

As far as the harm you mention, it seems to me that the Bible is not alone in its use to justify harm to others. There are other books that are and certainly would be used by those who have a propensity for such.

 

Kath said...

I am certainly very happy for you that you have received direct results from prayer. Unfortunately, prayer doesn't seem to work for many others. This is not to say that I don't believe in the possibility that there can be a connection with "God" and prayers have not been answered. What bothers me is that many people do pray and do not have their prayers answered. Why the selectivity? Do you have the inside level of consciousness, while others do not? Are you in the 6th dimension? This is something that has bothered me for many years.

 

 

Prayer to me is communion with one's source/God. As i have shared in other posts, it need not even be in words. Perhaps those who have not made that link are merely saying words without that communion. It does not bother me as you report it does you"that many do pray and do not have their prayers answered" It is enough that i examine my own heart so i cannot speak for nor say why another may have different results. I do not believe God is selective. I see God as present at all times in all places for all people. 6th dimension? I wouldn't know what you mean.

 

Kath said...

Why are some people's prayers answered and others' not?

 

Why is there pain inflicted upon babies and children if God is all knowing and all powerful and all loving? Something is missing.

 

I would love to know how you came to have such a strong faith. I'd love to know your experiences that gave you such strength in your belief.

 

"You'll never now that it's true 'til it happens to you".... to me is subjective, if you don't mind my saying so. I'd like to know exactly what happened to you that made you such a strong believer.

 

Again, thanks for your response, and I hope we can see eye to eye.

 

 

As far as these other questions in your last post, i can not speak for others. Some of your questions would simply disappear by a glimpse of what i would see as reality. It seems to me it would do little good to hear of my subjective experiences. It seems to me that each must experience for him or her self to know. It seems to me that subjective is the only way a sentient being can experience and if i had given a different impression it would be my error.

 

What happened to me? you ask to make me such a strong believer. I am not aware i am a strong believer. Yet somewhere i can say i did surrender my beliefs for what i now see as reality.

 

Best Wishes,

Joseph

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Kath said...

 

 

Hi Kath,

 

I personally have no objections whatsoever to quotations from any book, religious or otherwise. There are more books than i have read that are worthy to be quoted. I would be in agreement with you on that point.

As far as the harm you mention, it seems to me that the Bible is not alone in its use to justify harm to others. There are other books that are and certainly would be used by those who have a propensity for such.

 

Kath said...

 

 

Prayer to me is communion with one's source/God. As i have shared in other posts, it need not even be in words. Perhaps those who have not made that link are merely saying words without that communion. It does not bother me as you report it does you"that many do pray and do not have their prayers answered" It is enough that i examine my own heart so i cannot speak for nor say why another may have different results. I do not believe God is selective. I see God as present at all times in all places for all people. 6th dimension? I wouldn't know what you mean.

 

Kath said...

 

 

As far as these other questions in your last post, i can not speak for others. Some of your questions would simply disappear by a glimpse of what i would see as reality. It seems to me it would do little good to hear of my subjective experiences. It seems to me that each must experience for him or her self to know. It seems to me that subjective is the only way a sentient being can experience and if i had given a different impression it would be my error.

 

What happened to me? you ask to make me such a strong believer. I am not aware i am a strong believer. Yet somewhere i can say i did surrender my beliefs for what i now see as reality.

 

Best Wishes,

Joseph

 

Dearest Joseph,

 

I ask that you tell your tales of how you came to believe for a very strong reason.

You say you're not a strong believer that you are aware of, but you have surrendered your beliefs as reality. To me, that is the same thing. I'd love to know what you have experienced that made you "surrender your beliefs as reality".

 

If you could share that with me, I might be able to understand where you are coming from. If not, there is no point in this conversation. It would be just another quibble between "believers" and those who are searching and not so sure about it all.

 

Concrete experiences mean a lot to me. When someone tells me they are believers in Jesus because of an experience, I want to know about that experience. If that person dances around it and calls it a personal thing, I can't deal with it, because that tells me nothing.

 

what I mean about 6th dimension, is that some of us feel we have experienced a level of consciousness which others might not have. You can call it progressive Christianity if you have a bent toward Christianity. You can call it Gnostisism if you feel you know more than what traditional Christianity teaches.

 

Your level of consciousness might bring you within the boundaries of what the bible teaches and you can call it progressive because you have your own thoughts on any given subject within those constraints. That doesn't make you progressive, in my opinion. I think it makes you a thoughtful person given the foundation you choose to accept, and continue to further that thought process.

 

So, we all have a foundation which we build upon. that foundation can come from experiences we might not even be aware of. When we were 4 years old, for instance, someone could have influenced our minds and set off a given established principled doctrine which we then would build upon.

 

this is not an easy thing.

 

Kath

Edited by Kath
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"...As far as these other questions in your last post, i can not speak for others. Some of your questions would simply disappear by a glimpse of what i would see as reality. It seems to me it would do little good to hear of my subjective experiences. It seems to me that each must experience for him or her self to know. It seems to me that subjective is the only way a sentient being can experience and if i had given a different impression it would be my error.

 

What happened to me? you ask to make me such a strong believer. I am not aware i am a strong believer. Yet somewhere i can say i did surrender my beliefs for what i now see as reality....."

 

I'm not asking you to speak for others, Joseph. If my questions would disappear by a glimpse of reality, please feel free to share that reality so that I might realize why my questions would then disappear.

 

On the contrary, your experiences would do much good in that I would get to hear why you take the stand that you do. It seems to me that a backup experiencial history would be fundamental in expression of your thought process.

 

So, I'd love to hear what makes you a progressive Christian.

 

 

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"...As far as the harm you mention, it seems to me that the Bible is not alone in its use to justify harm to others. There are other books that are and certainly would be used by those who have a propensity for such...."

 

Joseph, I'm losing you here. What other books have sold more copies than any other books in the world and are followed by people around the world as being believed as the word of God? Can you name those other books which have such a profound influence on people around the world as does the bible?

 

I'd love to know of them.

 

I am wondering how you would differentiate yourself as a "progressive" Christian,now that I've read your remarks. I am wondering if you base your Christianity on biblical teachings, and if so, what makes you progressive?

 

Kath

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"...As far as the harm you mention, it seems to me that the Bible is not alone in its use to justify harm to others. There are other books that are and certainly would be used by those who have a propensity for such...."

 

Joseph, I'm losing you here. What other books have sold more copies than any other books in the world and are followed by people around the world as being believed as the word of God? Can you name those other books which have such a profound influence on people around the world as does the bible?

 

I'd love to know of them.

 

I am wondering how you would differentiate yourself as a "progressive" Christian,now that I've read your remarks. I am wondering if you base your Christianity on biblical teachings, and if so, what makes you progressive?

 

Kath

 

Hi Kath,

 

I have nothing to argue. Whether the Bible has sold more copies than the Quran or any other book is of little consequence to me. I am not out to determine or prove which book has done more harm or good. That knowledge is of little use to me and i make no claim either way in my statements. My heart is not troubled so lets just say you are right.

 

What i differentiate myself as or why seems to be of some concern to you. Differentiating myself as anything is simply not important to me. People are free to form their own opinion/view and labels personally mean little to me. However, in answer to your last question here, i found an approach to God through the reported teachings of Jesus yet my view is not based on the Bible or whether it was Jesus who really said what is reported or not or any other book for that matter. Christians in my view were in times past not a product of a book regardless of what the church system may report. That is not to say that there is not much agreement i can find in many books as i find much commonality in different words in most all religions. "Progressive", to me, just means proceeding in steps or moving forward.

 

Joseph

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Dearest Joseph,

 

I ask that you tell your tales of how you came to believe for a very strong reason.

You say you're not a strong believer that you are aware of, but you have surrendered your beliefs as reality. To me, that is the same thing. I'd love to know what you have experienced that made you "surrender your beliefs as reality".

 

If you could share that with me, I might be able to understand where you are coming from. If not, there is no point in this conversation. It would be just another quibble between "believers" and those who are searching and not so sure about it all.

 

First i must say i said "surrendered for what i now see as reality" not surrender your beliefs as reality as you have mistakenly quoted above. Perhaps you have assumed what i said for reality to be a substitute word equal to my past beliefs? It is, to me, not the same thing. A belief is a mental act, condition or habit of mental acceptance. Reality, at least to me, is more a seeing in Spirit that goes beyond the mental attributes. Its a oneness with your very being which is indeed interconnected to God. I could quote the Bible saying, Jesus said, "I and my father are one" and "i pray also that all of them may be one even as we are one". Yet those are just pointers or words. The only way one can know is to experience that oneness and then no words are necessary.

 

Yes, lets not quibble. There need be no winners or losers. There is only us.

 

 

 

Concrete experiences mean a lot to me. When someone tells me they are believers in Jesus because of an experience, I want to know about that experience. If that person dances around it and calls it a personal thing, I can't deal with it, because that tells me nothing.

 

I am neither a believer or unbeliever in Jesus. I never met him in the flesh that i remember so i make no claim. I perceive you want me to tell you some 'magical words' ( excuse my phrase as i am trying to not make it personal as best i can) that will give you a concrete experience. I can only say that the question to ask yourself is "Who or what am I" or "why am i not aware of my very being" . Then again, one can as in my case, search the very depth of their heart with all their heart for whatever is blocking this realization and surrender it in exchange for what is already there but not yet realized. In my personal case it was unforgiveness so yes it is a personal thing. Perhaps this sounds like a dance around that you choose not to deal with and if so, we can both agree just to call me a 'dancer'. smile.gif i would take no offence.

 

 

what I mean about 6th dimension, is that some of us feel we have experienced a level of consciousness which others might not have. You can call it progressive Christianity if you have a bent toward Christianity. You can call it Gnostisism if you feel you know more than what traditional Christianity teaches.

 

Okay. Let me say i do not speak for progressive Christianity, It speaks for itself. I call myself nothing but since i agree in principle with the 8 points of TCPC, it is fine with me if you consider me a progressive Christian. It is also fine if you don't but it is best to keep that view to oneself as it is sensitive to some and is in the view of this administration a pointless or needless argument that serves no useful purpose on this forum. As you can see from the 8 points and posts here, PC is not a detailed set of dogma or religious beliefs to believe in. It is more a Life progression. A journey. etc. etc.

As far as level of consciousness, in my view, there is no higher or lower, better or worse. There is just an evolution that is inevitable and by design. If there is such a thing as 'saved' then there is no one who is not. There is only realization and Life.

 

Your level of consciousness might bring you within the boundaries of what the bible teaches and you can call it progressive because you have your own thoughts on any given subject within those constraints. That doesn't make you progressive, in my opinion. I think it makes you a thoughtful person given the foundation you choose to accept, and continue to further that thought process.

 

Okay

 

So, we all have a foundation which we build upon. that foundation can come from experiences we might not even be aware of. When we were 4 years old, for instance, someone could have influenced our minds and set off a given established principled doctrine which we then would build upon.

 

this is not an easy thing.

 

Kath

 

It seems to me, (my view) the Truth (God) is found not by building a foundation ourselves but by tearing down the foundation we have built so we can see what is already there. That to me is the process to experience and there are many detours on that path.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

 

Sorry sbnr1, i see i have gotten a bit off of your topic by my response to Kath. I will transfer to another thread if it continues to take another direction. JM

 

Edited 6:56AM 14 March 2011 by JM

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Hi Kath,

 

"..... However, in answer to your last question here, i found an approach to God through the reported teachings of Jesus yet my view is not based on the Bible or whether it was Jesus who really said what is reported or not or any other book for that matter. Christians in my view were in times past not a product of a book regardless of what the church system may report. That is not to say that there is not much agreement i can find in many books as i find much commonality in different words in most all religions. "Progressive", to me, just means proceeding in steps or moving forward...."

 

Joseph

 

Hi Joseph,

 

This last part of your response is just what I was looking for, thank you.

 

A friend told me today that it seems I'm trying to pick an arguement with you, so I want to assure you that I am not and apologize if I seemed to be. I sincerely want to know how people come to find their inner peace with what they believe to be true for them.

 

Your explanation of "progressive" is a good one with respect to religion or any other subject and I appreciate it. I wasn't sure in what context the term, "progressive Christian" is meant.

 

If I'm taking this off the original theme of the thread, I apologize and since you have answered so well, I guess I will just say thanks and end this detour.

 

Peace,

 

Kath

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Perhaps like you, I don't at all consider the bible to be inerrant and infallible. I do think this book has a lot of problems, although I also recognize its sacred status amongst Christians. I wouldn't be for throwing it out because, at least for me, it gives me fairly good information about Jesus (which is part of my spiritual past) and it does have some good things in it. Nevertheless, neither do I defend it by saying, as some progressives do, that it was never meant to be taken literally. I call a spade a spade. Where I think the bible or Jesus or Paul is wrong, I say so. ;) I don't try to protect the book by claiming that it wasn't meant to be taken literally. To me, this is the best way to respect (not worship) the book for its sacred status - recognize its strengths and shortcomings - and don't try to white-wash it.

 

I'd use a slightly different wording than "Jesus is wrong," but that's me. The general point you seem to be making is one I can agree with, however.

 

I'm currently thinking of the Bible in line with Karl Barth: the Bible is a witness to the Word of God, God's desire to reconcile the world to him. The Bible was written by human hands, however, and it is therefore not the Word of God per se. It is possible, however, to have the Word come alive as you read the Bible, finding inspiration.

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Hi Kath.

 

I call a spade a spade. Where I think the bible or Jesus or Paul is wrong, I say so. ;) I don't try to protect the book by claiming that it wasn't meant to be taken literally. To me, this is the best way to respect (not worship) the book for its sacred status - recognize its strengths and shortcomings - and don't try to white-wash it.

 

You might be interested in a spade-calling article in the March-April edition of The Fourth R (a bimonthly publication of the Jesus Seminar) titled "He made it up."

 

the author argues that Paul made up the passage about the Last Supper at 1 Cor. 11:23b-25. Here, Paul is claiming that he received the details of the event and instructions for the Eucharist from the Jesus himself - whom he never met. Also, the author argues that the Eucharist would have an unlikely origin with a Jewish teacher (Jesus) because of strict Jewish prohibitions against eating human flesh and drinking of blood (very un-Kosher) and that it likely has gentile origins.

 

George

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To Nick: I respect Jesus a great deal, but, yes, I do think he was wrong about some things. Of course, if he existed at all, which I think he did, it is difficult to get at what he really said or did. We have none of the original manuscripts by the gospel writers. And even if we did, a great deal of time had passed between Jesus’ lifetime and the gospel accounts, time for the Jesus myth to evolve to some degree. There is little doubt amongst progressive/liberal Jesus’ historians that the early church had Jesus say or do things that supported their own needs as a burgeoning movement and community. Nevertheless, taken simply at face value in the “red letters,” Jesus was wrong about when he would return. He was wrong about his followers being able to receiving whatsoever they ask for in his name. He was, IMO, wrong about his followers being able to drink poison and handle snakes without harm, about being able to raise the dead, heal the sick, and do greater miracles than he himself did. He was also wrong about his promise that they wouldn’t die. They have been dying for the past 2000 years. (Sidenote: The only way to get around this ‘failed promise’ is to spiritualize it and say that they wouldn’t ‘spiritually’ die, something for which there is no proof one way or the other.) ;) But for me, the fact that Jesus was wrong about some things (if we take the red letters at face value) makes him more believable, not less. I don’t have to hold to Lewis’ view that if Jesus wasn’t 100% correct, he is not worth following or respecting. I don’t need Jesus to be God. But, again, that’s me. Christianity generally does need Jesus to be God.

 

To George: I’m somewhat familiar with the Jesus Seminar and read their book, “The Fifth Gospel” a few years back. As I said to Nick above, we don’t really know for certain what Jesus said or did. Jesus scholars try to get back to the historical Jesus as much as they can, but whether or not Jesus said or did what the gospels report, we have what we have and have to work with it. It may very well be, as the Jesus Seminar says, that only 8% or so of the red letters actually go back to Jesus himself. This doesn’t bother me like it used to. I used to think that if I didn’t have *all* of Jesus’ words, I couldn’t possibly trust or follow him. But then I came to realize, IMO, that what we have is other people’s views and interpretations of Jesus of Nazareth and that it is the general message and way of Jesus’ life that is, for me, true. Most of his teachings are true because, if followed, they make us and our world better, not because they came from “on high.” I am not at all out to destroy Jesus or people’s faith in Jesus. People are free to believe whatever they want to about him, whatever makes sense to them or helps them. But I am wary when people start to speak for him, as Paul and many Christians claim to do. In that sense, I don’t think God is a “respector of persons” and don’t believe in revealed religion. What we can know about God, for me, comes through the witness of creation and our inner selves. It seems to me that it is quite subjective, but it isn’t personal if it’s not.

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Hi SBNRT1, and thanks for that interjection!

 

I think your position on the bible is a healthy one. For those who find peace in reading some of the passages, and interest in it as a historic source of religious information, and are intelligent enough to be able to realize that it should not be taken literally, finding value in reading it, I suppose I have no problem with that.

 

What I see as a problem is that few people other than biblical scholars (including laypersons who are well-read) know the biblical history well enough to make any kind of true sense of it. It's so interpretive, and subjective, IMO, that it really comes down to how people obtain their perspectives of what they feel they are learning from it; what value it has. It can go either way and I find those who take it literally are those who usually are the most uninformed and impressionable as many of the Christian masses.

 

I just think there is so much recorded religious history, to use the bible for other than historical reference and to catch a glimpse of how people thought in those times (which is fairly ambiguous as well to me), is not necessary reading and certainly not a lone source of comforting parables/lessons. It's the book on which Christians have been taught to focus for their spiritual guidance.

 

I remember when I went to Catholic Church, and after the priest read from the bible, he's always end with, " ....and this is the gospel..." or something like that. "....according to....Luke" (or whichever) as if Luke wrote that gospel and as if it was 'gospel'.

 

Bottom line, I appreciate hearing from people such as yourself who can find the good and are informed enough to know to separate it out based on your own perspectives.

 

Thanks again for your response,

 

Kath

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To Nick: I respect Jesus a great deal, but, yes, I do think he was wrong about some things. Of course, if he existed at all, which I think he did, it is difficult to get at what he really said or did. We have none of the original manuscripts by the gospel writers. And even if we did, a great deal of time had passed between Jesus’ lifetime and the gospel accounts, time for the Jesus myth to evolve to some degree. There is little doubt amongst progressive/liberal Jesus’ historians that the early church had Jesus say or do things that supported their own needs as a burgeoning movement and community. Nevertheless, taken simply at face value in the “red letters,” Jesus was wrong about when he would return. He was wrong about his followers being able to receiving whatsoever they ask for in his name. He was, IMO, wrong about his followers being able to drink poison and handle snakes without harm, about being able to raise the dead, heal the sick, and do greater miracles than he himself did. He was also wrong about his promise that they wouldn’t die. They have been dying for the past 2000 years. (Sidenote: The only way to get around this ‘failed promise’ is to spiritualize it and say that they wouldn’t ‘spiritually’ die, something for which there is no proof one way or the other.) ;) But for me, the fact that Jesus was wrong about some things (if we take the red letters at face value) makes him more believable, not less. I don’t have to hold to Lewis’ view that if Jesus wasn’t 100% correct, he is not worth following or respecting. I don’t need Jesus to be God. But, again, that’s me. Christianity generally does need Jesus to be God.

 

What Jesus was/is, for me, one of the most anxiety-inducing questions I'm still wrestling with. So, to the degree that your post is about that, you'll excuse me if I punt :rolleyes:. (Really, I just meant that as a throw-away line before agreeing with you) However, you and I are in total agreement (I think) about what the Bible is, and the (lack of) certainty it can offer.

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I am encouraged from the discussion in this thread.

 

It seems just about everyone here has a healthy skepticism of the authority of the Bible. Too much damage has been done in the history of humanity by those Bible Idolaters who insist that the hodgepodge of religious and fantastical (and at times; fanatical) tales contained within its pages are Truth from above.

 

I think the most destructive view is that the Bible's message is never-changing and that a rigorous study of the schizophrenic book will reveal the true meaning of the words. It's the equivalent of collecting all of the Bazooka Joe sayings into one book and trying to concoct a coherent philosophy based on the thing.

 

It's quite possible to construct many divergent religious concepts from the same book. The fact that there are hundreds of denominations within Christianity is testament to this fact.

 

Perhaps a thorough gleaning of the Bible is in order! Let's toss the hateful parts and keep the hopeful and uplifting passages. It could even have a positive economic effect. The much thinner book will cost significantly less.

 

NORM

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I am encouraged from the discussion in this thread.

 

It seems just about everyone here has a healthy skepticism of the authority of the Bible. Too much damage has been done in the history of humanity by those Bible Idolaters who insist that the hodgepodge of religious and fantastical (and at times; fanatical) tales contained within its pages are Truth from above.

 

I think the most destructive view is that the Bible's message is never-changing and that a rigorous study of the schizophrenic book will reveal the true meaning of the words. It's the equivalent of collecting all of the Bazooka Joe sayings into one book and trying to concoct a coherent philosophy based on the thing.

 

It's quite possible to construct many divergent religious concepts from the same book. The fact that there are hundreds of denominations within Christianity is testament to this fact.

 

Perhaps a thorough gleaning of the Bible is in order! Let's toss the hateful parts and keep the hopeful and uplifting passages. It could even have a positive economic effect. The much thinner book will cost significantly less.

 

NORM

 

Norm,

 

I really like you.

 

Okay, if someone could rescue the best passages from the chains that bind them to the collective, politically established doctrine of the bible, I would think it would out-sell the bible. Wouldn't that be great? Unfortunately, too many people have drunk the coolaide.

 

I think what we are all hold into is the belief that there is something which connects us all in the sense of love and community. We have been exposed to only and mostly Christianity and any good that the bible has to offer, because we've been endoctrinated , albeit unaware, into the United States Christian Religion, and we gravitated toward that with which we identify....the good passages... and merely have allowed the rest to exist as an aside.

 

So now, those of us who are realizing the truth of the matter, those of us who have taken the initiative to learn more because something just didn't feel right about it all, are the ones who are finding peace and at the same time an unsettling feeling. But we have to go through our labor pains to reach the beauty of birth.

 

Kath

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Norm,

 

I really like you.

 

Thanks! I like you too.

 

So now, those of us who are realizing the truth of the matter, those of us who have taken the initiative to learn more because something just didn't feel right about it all, are the ones who are finding peace and at the same time an unsettling feeling. But we have to go through our labor pains to reach the beauty of birth.

 

Kath

 

I know what you mean about that unsettling feeling. Every time I attend a Christian church service, I am encouraged by a particular point the pastor will make - only to be dashed by the idiotic points following.

 

I don't know what it is about some Christians, but they seem to be unwilling to broach certain subjects or leave behind sacred cows. I've found far more willingness to abandon sacred ground among the Jews with whom I associate. I haven't figured out why this is yet, other than the fact that the Jews tend to be more progressive. I'm not sure, though, that this is entirely the reason.

 

NORM

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Thanks! I like you too.

 

 

 

I know what you mean about that unsettling feeling. Every time I attend a Christian church service, I am encouraged by a particular point the pastor will make - only to be dashed by the idiotic points following.

 

I don't know what it is about some Christians, but they seem to be unwilling to broach certain subjects or leave behind sacred cows. I've found far more willingness to abandon sacred ground among the Jews with whom I associate. I haven't figured out why this is yet, other than the fact that the Jews tend to be more progressive. I'm not sure, though, that this is entirely the reason.

 

NORM

 

Norm, I don't know either, but I'm thinking that Jews seem so very settled in the validity of their mind process. I do know that their parents usually instill that in them and it's a good thing. I don't know how they do it, and I'm in awe, to be frank. I recently went on vacation in Fla and it was a mix between business and pleasure. We were associated with a Jewish couple and I was really impressed with their sense of superiority and family unit. She was a trip, believe me. Don't get me started LOL. but wow. I thought either she was covering up major insecurities or not...I'd never know.

 

When you say Jews tend to be more progressive, I'm not sure what you mean, but I think they are totally secure in their thoughts. I don't think it's a religious thing, per se, but maybe a familial upbringing and the religion is like the glue for them. I know that they are very intelligent, very agressive, and they give their children latitude in famly discussions. These people have it all, but at the same time, I noticed she was very insecure in many other ways.

 

Aren't we all? It's just so strange.

Kath

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Perhaps a thorough gleaning of the Bible is in order! Let's toss the hateful parts and keep the hopeful and uplifting passages. It could even have a positive economic effect. The much thinner book will cost significantly less.

 

As tempting as this is (and it really is tempting), I can't get behind it. I'm generally not in favor of sanitizing texts, as in my experience they lose depth in the process, but people can always (mis-)interpret a text in ways that will create headaches. I'd rather keep the Bible, warts and all. The problem is with people, interpreting it in ways that reinforce patriarchy, class, and everything else without even realizing they're doing it (I'm being charitable).

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As tempting as this is (and it really is tempting), I can't get behind it. I'm generally not in favor of sanitizing texts, as in my experience they lose depth in the process, but people can always (mis-)interpret a text in ways that will create headaches. I'd rather keep the Bible, warts and all. The problem is with people, interpreting it in ways that reinforce patriarchy, class, and everything else without even realizing they're doing it (I'm being charitable).

 

Then why are you in favor in keeping it, warts and all?

 

It's not a matter of sanitizing texts. It's a matter of getting rid of them because they cause more harm than good.

 

What depth do they have when they cause harm? What depth does the bible have which cannot be found in other texts which don't at the same time induce violence and condemnation?

 

Please tell me just what the bible has going for it that can't be found in other texts which don't include those things?

 

"...The problem is with people, interpreting it in ways that reinforce patriarchy, class, and everything else without even realizing they're doing it (I'm being charitable)...."

 

who cares if they 'realize' it or not? It's wrong, is it not? Please tell me why it should be defended.

 

Kath

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Hi Kath,

 

You said...

who cares if they 'realize' it or not? It's wrong, is it not? Please tell me why it should be defended.

 

 

It seems to me that the Bible needs no defence or justification. It simply is what it is. Things could not be any different than they are at this moment, thus the Bible exists. Could be's and should be's are hypotheticals that have no real existence in reality. You can't censor it or get rid of it, it will just draw more support or another like book will replace it.

 

In my view, the Bible is not a popular book because of itself. It is popular because there are so many people who are at that stage of evolution of consciousness where it provides that which they need and are drawn to. There seems to me to be a natural progression of consciousness and the OT is a place we pass through on our journey. While it is a stumbling block, it is also a teacher. Truth to me is found not by looking for it because it isn't lost, it is always present. Rather truth is found by removing the falsehoods that obscure it. (or discovering that which is false) As a metaphor, the Sun is always shining, only sometimes it is being blocked from sight. When that which is false and is blocking truth is known, truth becomes self-evident. It seems to me, one cannot know light without darkness, one cannot know silence without noise. The OT is a schoolmaster as Paul put it that brought us to something better. While there are many other books one might prefer, the fact is that the Bible is here and will most likely remain until people come to the knowledge of what is true for themselves. Either attacking or defending or ridding ourselves of the Bible in my opinion will not bring people closer to that knowledge. I believe one cannot receive before they are ready. When they are, no Bible can stop them.

 

Just a personal view,

Joseph

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Hi Kath,

 

You said...

 

 

It seems to me that the Bible needs no defence or justification. It simply is what it is. Things could not be any different than they are at this moment, thus the Bible exists. Could be's and should be's are hypotheticals that have no real existence in reality. You can't censor it or get rid of it, it will just draw more support or another like book will replace it.

 

In my view, the Bible is not a popular book because of itself. It is popular because there are so many people who are at that stage of evolution of consciousness where it provides that which they need and are drawn to. There seems to me to be a natural progression of consciousness and the OT is a place we pass through on our journey. While it is a stumbling block, it is also a teacher. Truth to me is found not by looking for it because it isn't lost, it is always present. Rather truth is found by removing the falsehoods that obscure it. (or discovering that which is false) As a metaphor, the Sun is always shining, only sometimes it is being blocked from sight. When that which is false and is blocking truth is known, truth becomes self-evident. It seems to me, one cannot know light without darkness, one cannot know silence without noise. The OT is a schoolmaster as Paul put it that brought us to something better. While there are many other books one might prefer, the fact is that the Bible is here and will most likely remain until people come to the knowledge of what is true for themselves. Either attacking or defending or ridding ourselves of the Bible in my opinion will not bring people closer to that knowledge. I believe one cannot receive before they are ready. When they are, no Bible can stop them.

 

Just a personal view,

Joseph

 

Ah Joseph, while I appreciate your stand, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. You have drunk the coolaide and I understand your steadfast protection of the bible because you are coming from that prospective. The bible may be just what it is, but what is is, is not a book we should be basing everything in life on, as people do.

 

 

"...It is popular because there are so many people who are at that stage of evolution of consciousness where it provides that which they need and are drawn to...."

 

No, it's popular because it has been pushed on people for so many years. If it provides some of which they are drawn to, I consider it a false siren which can suck a person in to believe that condemnation and ostracization is also the will of God. It is popular because of it's proliferation, and partial substantive phrases of goodness and value for lack of any other book to put by the bedside and attend a gathering of other hopeful individuals seeking for the path to God. That wasn't by accident.

 

 

"... Things could not be any different than they are at this moment, thus the Bible exists...."

 

You can't be serious. Are you saying that the bible has not been influential on history? Are you saying that people haven't been tortured, murdered, ostracized and suicidal because of the influence of biblical teachings?

 

Cancer exists also, but that doesn't make it okay.

 

If you think that if the bible was erased from the face of the earth, another would replace it, I respectfully have to say that it would be impossible.

 

Do you base your progressive Christianity on the bible, Joseph? Is this your forum? Did you start it? Because if that's what this forum is about, I'm going to have to pass and find another.

 

Kath

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